Diddy Kong Racing... It seems like it was ages ago that we were playing this game on the Nintendo 64 with our friends. Now it's come back to us on a pair of smaller screens... But still with the same uniqueness that made us love it the first time.
Diddy Kong Racing DS is the first racer to have a storyline to it, even if it's a bit simple. Basically, a giant magical pig is taking over Timber Island. Timber the tiger calls his friend Diddy Kong, and they all work together to defeat "WizPig" by racing, and collecting balloons that allow them to progress to different areas, allowing them to beat new bosses which in turn allows them to get pieces of a large rock, which, when put together, open the sculpture of WizPig's mouth, allowing you to fly into it and race WizPig directly. However, once you defeat WizPig, you discover it isn't over quite yet. This game features a whole level in outer space!
Diddy Kong Racing DS is like Mario Kart in the way that you have weapons on the track, boosts, turbo jumps, and all sorts of items that can be used to harass the people you're racing against. There's missiles, oil slicks and magnets that pull you towards the player in front of you at quite a fast speed. There's also turbos, which are pretty self-explanatory. The weapons, however, are different, because you always know what you're going to get, because a red balloon always yields a missile, green always yields an oil slick, etc. However, the ability to upgrade your weapons by running into the same colour again makes this game a game of strategy as much as it is of racing. For example, if I hit a red balloon and get one, non-homing missile, if I don't fire it, I can run into another red balloon that will give me four missiles that DO home in on players, and then I can run into it again giving me a missile that will always go for the race leader. This item is a bit useless to use when you're in first place. I tried it, and all it does is go up, and then come back down on you.
However, something that Diddy Kong Racing DS has that no other racing game hasn't is the non-limitation to karts. Players can choose to race as a kart, a hovercraft for water purposes, and a plane to access all the areas they need to. Players can even customise the colours of their vehicles, however it lacks the insignia design feature of Mario Kart DS, which I felt was a bit of a downfall.
Another difference between Diddy Kong Racing DS and other racing games is that to get a turbo at the start, rather than revving the engine, you have to use the DS stylus. When you're a kart, you have to spin a wheel, when you're a hovercraft, you have to blow into the microphone, and as a plan you have to spin a propeller. This is an unorthodox feature which should not have been included. Why can't we just rev the engine like normal racing games?
Wi-Fi is a new addition to the game. The Wi-Fi system is excellent, allowing you to swap friend codes or just play a game with anyone around the world who happens to be on Nintendo WFC at the time, and looking for a game. Hardly any lag in the online racing, weapons don't miss when they should've hit, etc. This gives it great replay value, especially with the ability to unlock T.T. the ChronoMaster as a playable character, who has full stats on everything. Better unlock him before you try online, because everyone on there has him...
Another really cool but unnecessary feature is the ability to customise your own sound effects. You can customise the sound that plays when you fire a weapon, when you get hit by a weapon, when you overtake someone, or when you get overtaken. This is a neat way to impress your friends, but like I said, highly unnecessary.
Ok, now down into the nuts and bolts:
Graphics: Graphics were good. Sometimes a little bit pixelated, especially when firing weapons or seeing someone get hit. However, this recovers almost instantly. I give Graphics 9.0.
Storyline: For the only racer in the world to have a storyline to it, this isn't that bad. It's a bit weak, but only a bit, and you soon forget the storyline when you're immersed in the racing. I give the storyline 8.5.
Controls/Gameplay: Good. About as much as you can expect from a handheld racing game. A to accelerate, B to brake, L to fire weapon etc. Weapon upgrades also give this game a nice element of strategy, something that racing games lack. I give Controls/Gameplay 8.0.
Sound: Sound was great, especially with the ability to customise your own sound effects using the DS microphone. This game makes full use of the DS's speakers. I give Sound 10.0.
Brawler rates this game:
Final Thought: Worth buying, but should definitely be rented first, as not everybody likes it.